Last Friday there was a prime-time debate about Islam on Bill Maher's Real Time show. I say debate in a qualified sense because, as far as Ben Affleck was concerned, no real debate was actually had. (The show also included the philosopher and writer Sam Harris.)
(This is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vln9D81eO60.)
Apparently, Maher has recently criticised Islam and Ben Affleck doesn't like anyone doing that. He thinks, for some bizarre reason, that it's “racist”.
In the show itself, Ben Affleck simply didn't seem interested in debate at all. In fact he seemed – at different times- to be both bored and angered by it.
Sure, Affleck displayed some strong emotions on the issue; but that was all there was. Indeed he was intent on displaying those strong emotions; as well exhibiting his misplaced anti-racist piety. He was also keen to show both himself and the audience how supremely– and, ultimately, suicidally – tolerant he is of Islamic intolerance.
In other words, it was all about Affleck's political-emotional ego and not really about Islam.
As I said, Affleck wasn't really interested in discussing the reality of Islam. Indeed even if there are good aspects of Islam, Affleck only wanted to hear about them. It was as if the very mention of any negatives is, well, “racist”. And that can only mean - as with Nathan Lean and Loonwatch- that Leftists and left-liberals demand quite literal critical silence on Islam. (In order to defeat "racism" and "fascism".)
In fact the negative aspects of Islam could have been put on a plate in front of Ben Affleck and he'd still have pulled the furrowed brow he pulled throughout the discussion.
The best Ben Affleck could manage was to display the primacy of emotion over argumentation. For example, during the interview Affleck said to Maher: “I'm simply telling you, I disagree with you.”
Bill Maher himself got to the heart of Ben Affleck's cognitive deficit and emotional surplus (which masqueraded as a political or even a moral position) when he said: “You’re not listening to what we are saying.”
At various points in the show Sam Harris made various cogent and well-argued points against Islam. (This doesn't necessarily mean that they are true or even accurate; only that they were argued-for.) However, Ben Affleck responded aggressively to all those points. And to that aggression Bill Maher said: “Why are you so hostile about this?” To which Affleck replied: “It’s gross, it’s racist.”
I think that deep down Ben Affleck knows – as do many Leftists and left-liberals - that it's not racist to criticise Islam or even to criticise the Muslims who are acting on Islamic principles and texts. Such people use the word “racist” simply because they know that calling a political enemy – or simply someone who dares to disagree with them - such a thing works political wonders. (It's also effectively a Stalinist – Stalin himself used the word “fascist” or “imperialist” all the time- attempt to end the debate.)
In Ben Affleck's specific case, he simply didn't have any arguments to defend his position (that's if he has one). Not only that: he couldn't stomach the fact that millions of critics of Islam do have arguments. So all Affleck had left was that mindless ejaculation: “It's racist.”
All outright Leftists and many left-liberals (just like Affleck) don't listen to their political opponents. And they certainly don't listen to those they deem to be “racists”,“bigots”, “fascists”, “Nazis”, “xenophobes”,“knuckle-draggers” (or “pseudo-intellectuals”), “red-necks”,“the far right”, “haters”, “hooligans”, “thugs”,“loons” (as with Loonwatch) and “Islamophobes”.
Ben Affleck displayed that unwillingness to debate - and even to, well, think - when he replied to Sam Harris's comment that “Islam is the motherload of bad ideas” by saying, “Jesus!”
All Muslims are X
Mr Affleck did manage one scintilla of debate. Or, should I say, he came out with that most unconscionable of clichés when it comes to most – or even all - discussions of Islam. (Except, of course, what Affleck said has nothing to do with Islam itself.) Affleck said:
“[you don’t mention] the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?”
Of course Sam Harris never once said that "all Muslims" are anything. Indeed nothing Sam Harris or Bill Maher said depended on all Muslims being either X or Y. That's why Sam Harris focuses on Islam itself most of the time. And when he does mention Islamic groups or Muslim individuals, he ties those comments to how Islam itself - or the Koran itself - has affected the behaviour and actions of such groups or individuals.
Sam Harris himself responded to the not-all-Muslims-are-X argument – as well as Ben Affleck's made-up figure of a “billion” moderate Muslims - by saying that it's not only blatant extremist Muslims who are the problem. That is, “conservative” Muslims and groups also keep other members of their community “immiserated”. (It can also be argued that many – though not all – of the so-called “moderate”groups and individuals do so too.)
What do people expect from Ben Affleck and other actors?
Despite saying that, on the one hand people may say that you can't expect political eloquence from any actor. Yet on the other hand many people hang on their every word (though only, of course, if they agree with their politics).
So, in a sense, we shouldn't be too bothered about what Ben Affleck and other actors/pop stars/sports personalities/etc. have to say on political issues - even if we agree with them. After all, Ben Affleck is an actor who's using his position (of fame) to advance political views which people wouldn't otherwise listen to.
Finally, in articles about - and interviews with - Ben Affleck it often says that he has “strong political opinions”.Now I know what that actually means.